One of the HVM Catapult’s leading teams, the Lightweight Technologies team at WMG recently worked with GRM Consulting Ltd to investigate ways to significantly reduce the weight of a car seat as well as reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing the seat.
WMG’s approach was to characterise possible new candidate materials and then evaluate them against benchmark materials. The predicted performance was simulated using finite element analysis which enabled performance to be optimised.
Selected new materials were then used to build a prototype seat and performance was verified against the predicted performance.
Prototype parts were manufactured at WMG and an optimised thermoplastic composite seat design was achieved. The lightweight composite solution passed all selected US Federal test standards. The project proved that up to 50% weight reduction is achievable and the overall environmental impact was significantly reduced.
The research team has now moved on to develop a rapid stamp-forming process to create a high-performance thermoplastic laminate solution with a target cycle time of less than 90 seconds (equivalent to 50,000+ parts per annum). This will be a fully recyclable, advanced composite, light-weighting technology.